Sunday, February 15, 2009

Regulating the Regulators

Fish stink from the head.

Last week I spoke out against the nomination of a health czar whose only qualification was that of a career politician and lobbyist for the drug industry.

So, who should it be, he asked, rhetorically. Cards on the table, whoever it is had better be seriously battle tested, politically, and have some major league media savvy. But it also has to be someone with a deep understanding of how the body actually works, and how to integrate therapies to produce positive outcomes, not just how to sell drugs. The time has come.

This week, my nominations.

1. Jeffrey Bland PHD; Of my three choices, Bland will be the least known to the general public, yet, argueably, the best choice of the three. He's been teaching the tenents of functional medicine to healthcare practitioners like, well, Andy Weil and Mehmet Oz, for close to thirty years. He co-founded Bastyr University, which is the equivalent to Harvard Med for a Naturopathic Doctor. Last week at his seminar on the Future of the Clinic, in NYC, he mentioned that he, Weil and Oz would be testifying before Congress on what the shape of healthcare reform should look like. There's a link to his website on this blog. You can look up his credentials. Naturopaths and nutritionists who've attended any of his seminars over the last thirty years, pretty much, to a fault, genuflect at the mere mention of his name. He has a mind that boggles the mind, and he is tough. He would not buckle under the weight of Washington political pressure.

2. Andrew Weil MD;

3. Mehmet Oz MD;

If you're reading this and don't know who the other two are, I can't help you.

Any one of these guys would be just great. They should all hold up to the vetting process. None are in bed with big pharma, yet they all know their medicine. None of them are naive when it comes the realities of what the job entails. They're virtually unassailable. Weil and Oz are Mt. Rushmore-like in their level of belovedness. So is Bland among healthcare practitioners.

The nomination of someone like these three would truly signal the dawn of a new day in healthcare, and not more politics as usual.

Actually, I might rather have Andy Weil as the drug czar. You'll have to read his book, The Natural Mind, to understand the cryptic nature of that remark. He wrote it almost forty years ago, and it's still the best, most insightful book on drug policy I've ever read.